ambifauna

7th April 2017

The next few weeks will see the release of both Myosphere and Seltrac. These will complete the first chapter of International Debris.

Both albums feature material that was started at the time I started Bathe in the Lights of Distant Cities, and pretty much everything released since then – Anxiety, Ambifauna, Thursday Morning Taylor Swift, Estuary, and my vaporwave material – has been part of the same recording sessions. There are many tracks which were initially intended for one album that appeared on a totally different one. Although all the records have individual themes and atmospheres, in my head they all occupy the same space. This level of overlap is totally unlike anything I’ve done before.

A couple of months after tidying up all these, I returned to work and pieced together TimewyrmMistral and Opaline, partially from unfinished ideas and partially from new material. In some ways these form a coda to those original sessions.

I’m incredibly satisfied with how all of this has come together. Those of you who’ve been following this blog for a while will know that for some time I went through a period of unhappiness with my output, roughly between (but not including) Canal Seven and cer. Although there are some wonderful finished albums from this period, it’s also an era in which I spent as much time restructuring as I did actually recording. Different versions of albums appeared and disappeared from various Bandcamps more times than I can remember, and there’s still a fair amount of material I’ve effectively disowned from this time.

Although I can’t stay that the creative process has been easy since starting ID – for someone with mental health problems like myself, I spend as much time loathing what I do as I do loving it – I’m incredibly happy with the state of my music since then. I’ve been able to return to a time with no expectations, simply making music I want to make, and all of the releases – particularly the main five albums and the Anxiety EP – are among my favourite things I’ve done. In many ways, my material as Ross Baker was a healing process,  and ID finds me fully recovered again (which also explains why cer sounds like a cross between the two, transitional album as it was).

Once I make a full start on new material then I think chapter 2 of ID will be on the way. It will probably be different to the current (and shortly-to-be-released) batch of records, although I’m sure it’ll still sound like me regardless.

Up and at them!

31st December 2015

2015, then. I won’t deny it’s been a difficult year. After a relatively good 2014 this year’s been rocky. I ended up in hospital with my mental health issues again. I ended up moving back in with my parents again. On the other hand, I’ve learned a lot about myself and am so much more confident going forward with my life, about who I am and what I want. I am more aware than ever of my weaknesses, what aspects of my life trigger off anxiety, and things that make my OCD flare up; equally I feel more capable of managing these things moving forward. I am hoping in 2016 I’ll be able to redress the balance in lifestyle and be able to start functioning better socially.

Musically it’s been a year of some real highs and proper lows. International Debris started properly at the start of the year, and since then I’ve put out a couple of full-length albums, including Ambifauna, one of my strongest records to date. That came out on Psychonavigation, probably my most high profile release, although one which received disappointingly little coverage or response. The first half of the year also saw the release of probably my most personal release to date, the Anxiety EP. More recently I’ve put out a number of vaporwave releases which have been very well received. I was also very proud to put out a tape on one of my favourite labels, ((Cave)) Recordings, with the second Winter of the World album (my collab with Noisesurfer​). I curated five episodes of Terminal​ Radio, and since then have been running a fortnightly show called Dream Machine, both on the brilliant Future Music FM​.

On the downside, I’ve had more doubts about my own music this year than any time in the past, and have seriously considered giving up all together. I recently tied together various odds and ends into an album called Remains (to be released next year on Aloe City Records​), and I am going to be making a fresh start in the new year, spending more time really getting to grips with the hardware I’ve acquired over the past couple of years and really learning how to use it rather than pissing around and using the bits that work. There are two other albums coming in 2016, ParkCity by Day on Beer Wizard​ in Jan/Feb, and Curtain Moon later in the year on a label still to be announced. There should also be a collection of lo-fi synth jams called Genderqueer Synth Diaries, to come out on the lovely Third Kind Records​ at some point.

Most of my best moments this year have involved Lucy and Rosey. Without them I wouldn’t have got through half of what I got through. They are both beautiful and wonderful.

Here’s to 2016. Happy new year to you all. 🙂

8th November 2015

Thought I’d do a diary entry as it’s been a few months. It’s a rather wet and windy November afternoon and I’m looking out onto the same street I was looking out at when I recorded Purlieu, Vacuum Road Songs, Canal Seven and the bulk of Leaf Pass. This all ties in with my completing an album that in many ways marks a return to the album format I was working with back in those days; it’s almost a return to the Second Thought modus operandi. After diving headfirst into folky acoustic music four years ago, I’ve been making small steps back towards this direction. Following on from this July’s Ambifauna – which had the amorphous soundscape of old but still retained the 45 minute album format – my new record reaches out over nearly 75 minutes.

The album took eleven months to put together, and has been through more incarnations than I can actually remember (titled Street Gardine, Hypogeum, Chrysalism, among others). At one point it was an airy, field recording-heavy record (most of which turned up on the Anxiety EP); it’s been through various directions since then – at one point almost entirely beatless ambience, at another quite rhythmic and lo-fi – and only one track remains from the original version of the album, which is pretty heavy going even for me. For quite a long time I didn’t think it was ever going to be finished and this was the cause of a higher number of “I’m never making music again” moments than normal.

And then something changed. I started really getting into vaporwave. Interestingly, I’m not the only person who’s said they’ve found vaporwave has rekindled their love for music and/or music making. Notably HKE wrote about it on his blog. Anyway, I started playing around with making my own vaporwave stuff and eventually began to put some ambient and new age-tinged tracks together, and suddenly I realised these pieces were the perfect fit for the album I’d been working on for months. Over a few weeks I put together half an album and weaved it in with a handful of older tracks and out came what I’d like to think is one of my strongest albums in a very long time. It’s called When I Look at the Sky I Know it is Different and contains thirteen tracks. All being well it’ll be out on a really good label in the new year.

Alongside that there will be three EPs which are more traditionally vaporwave sounding, either earlier experiments with the sound, or tracks that closed out the recent sessions after the album was complete. What I really like about vaporwave is the variety and the community. Unlike several other music scenes I’ve found online, people are really keen to get involved, chat, share music and collaborate. There’s little in the way of elitism or snobbishness. And whilst a lot of people have the image of it being nothing more than ‘80s pop songs slowed down and looped, the name refers to such a huge range of stuff, from the dreamy ambient of t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 to the dubstep-influenced HKE, the groove of various vaportrap artists, the almost Daft Punk sounding Saint Pepsi, the fucked up mixtapes of Pursuing Paradise etc. etc. etc. The great thing is that people are into all of this. There’s none of the ridiculous box ticking niche nonsense you often find with other styles – so many approaches of ambient, yet each seems to have its own set of labels and fanbases. For someone like myself who struggles to sound the same over the course of a track let alone an album, it’s refreshing to find a place so welcoming.

Anyway, I have a refreshed sense of creativity that I’ve almost accidentally stumbled across after years of not being quite sure where I was heading. You can hear some samples of my new pieces on my Soundcloud. I’m happy to be properly moving forward again.

Lately I’ve been listening to a fair bit of ‘60s psychedelia, particularly The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle, and discovering various obscurities through YouTube. Nmesh and t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者’s new split on Dream Catalogue is fantastic, and I finally have a copy of the second 2814 album on tape, so that’s been on the player quite a bit. And the new Chvrches.

Since Second Thought ended I’ve been fairly quiet on the updates front, choosing to just pop up with the occasional bit of news every now and then. This entry has been a bit bulky but I’ll hopefully be writing less, more regularly, in the coming months.

4th August 2015

Been a while since I posted an update about my music…

Ambifauna came out a couple of weeks ago, reactions have been very positive so far. It’s available directly from the label, as well as from Amazon, iTunes, Juno, Kudos and various other online outlets, as both CDr and various digital download formats.

The album itself I am incredibly proud of. In these days of uncertainty about my own music, I am really happy with Ambifauna. In some ways, it’s a concise version of everything I was trying to achieve with Second Thought back in the day, although containing a lot of new sounds. Certainly the seamless flow and segues have achieved everything I ever wanted to do with that sound.

I’ve recently been tying up the next album, which I’ve been labouring over since January. It’s been a lot more difficult than most of my albums, going through countless incarnations over the months, with about thirty tracks being considered for it in total (only seven will be on the final version). It is spiritually linked with Bathe in the Lights of Distant Cities and stylistically not that drastically different from Ambifauna; the three form a loose trilogy for me, and after this I’ll be moving off to do something different. The album should be appearing next spring at some point, more news on that soon.

After a couple of years in London, I’m actually back in Hinckley again. No matter where life takes me, I always seem to end up back here again. With all the health issues I’ve had over the last few years I’m using it as an opportunity to finally get a bit of peace and rest and hopefully recover and be able to move forward with my life as and when I’m ready.

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Ishq, Pete Namlook, Susanne Sundfor and Tangerine Dream…

28th December 2014

2014 in review, I: favourite music

My top 25 records of 2014…
01. The Future Sound of London – Environment Five
02. Bedroom – Shade & System
03. A Winged Victory for the Sullen – Atomos
04. Manic Street Preachers – Futurology
05. Off Land – Quinarian
06. Aphex Twin – Syro
07. Foxes – Glorious
08. Deaf Center – Recount
09. The Birthday Suit – A Hollow Hole of Riches
10. Origamibiro – Odham’s Standard
11. HOLOVR – Holo Earth
12. Pyramids of Space – Pyramids of Space
13. Caustic Window – Caustic Window LP
14. Off Land – Voyage/Home
15. Off Land – Accitiper/Coast
16. The Long Lights – Our Waking Hours
17. Roddy Woomble & Band – Live in the Inner Hebrides
18. Off Land – Osculation
19. Nmesh – Dream Sequins
20. Hakobune/Sim Kima – Split
21. RAGS – Belief in an Order of Meaning
22. The Original Flowering Earth – Hosshein
23. Glass Girl – What’s it All About?
24. Eno/Hyde – Someday World
25. Blackhill Transmitter – 2nd

Somehow ended up missing the new Zola Jesus, but I’ll catch up with that pretty quickly in the new year.

2014 in review, II: my music

It’s very strange to think that a year ago I’d only just released Terra Incognita – an album that I began almost a year before. It feels like a lifetime ago. Still, that was more of a side-project record (originally planned to be released under the name ‘Hello Egypt’ before I shied away from the idea at the eleventh hour), and I spent the first half of the year making progress from my 2012 records – stripping the acoustic sound right down for Two Suns and its related mini album Periphery, before building up with more electronics once more on cer. The first two of those were released on a couple of ambient labels I have great fondness for: Flaming Pines and Twice Removed. These gave me a rather nice amount of exposure – just in time for me to sabotage in it typical style by another style and name change.

There are several reasons for changing from Ross Baker to International Debris, but the main two are wanting to get out of the ruralist corner I’d painted myself into with my own name, and wanting to freely work with others. The second half of the year was spent recording ID material, of which about five hours’ worth has been completed. From this bulk have been assembled two albums: Bathe in the Lights of Distant Cities (due out in January on Metaphysical Circuits), and a second entitled Ambifauna, due later in the year – more news on that soon. Ambifauna in particular I am incredibly proud of, and much of this material is the best I have ever recorded. I have worked with six different musicians on these sessions, and will be working with many others in the next year on future material. The creative decisions I’ve been making over the past few months have given me a certain sense of freedom with my music, and I’m looking forward to exploring that further.

More news in 2015! Happy holidays 🙂